The Philippines have Tingled my Taste Buds for Beauty! (By Pawel Machura)
There is nothing quite like leaving home, work, and stress behind to lose yourself in some place new. Recently, I had an opportunity for travel to El Nido, located in the north of Palawan (i.e., one of the 7,107 islands in the Philippines). I must admit, I’ve heard a lot about the Philippines in passing over the years, but surprisingly, no one has ever mentioned how unbelievably beautiful this tropical paradise is.
After a short ride on a tricycle to the beach (a tricycle is essentially a glorified motorcycle inside the frame of a Smart car), where a boat awaited to take me, and several others, on an island hopping adventure which I’ll never forget, I set foot on untainted white sand beaches in perfect 85 degree weather. There we dove straight from the boat into the refreshing light blue and turquoise water for a front row seat to the hidden world beneath us. We swam
next to large schools of fish, floated effortlessly while gazing at the intricacy of hundreds of different types of coral, swam 0.5 mi. through canyons to access large lagoons, and through cave openings int
o secret beaches. We ate fresh seafood prepared by the locals on the beach and the list goes on and on. Beauty of such magnitude had a real impact on me. I don’t say this lightly. It helped free my heart. God’s creation is wild yet beautiful and this adventure helped me realize how alive I feel when I’m a man casting worries aside and seizing the free gifts God created for me…for us.
I remember thinking to myself as I sat on the shore with waves rolling over my legs, green covered mountains jutting out from the ocean to my sides, and nothing but crystal clear blue water before me; ‘I could sit here and admire this all day and still I couldn’t even begin to grasp it.’ It’s so immense that I could only skim the surface. And as much as I would love to bring this oasis home with me to enjoy after a long day, we just can’t possess beauty. It’s free, unselfish, and uncontainable, just like the landscape before me. All we can do is admire it in awe in the present moment, allowing it to change us. I attempted to simply receive this gift while I was there and rest in God’s garden. It felt great! Kind of like rediscovering an old favorite pastime you put down for way too long as life got busy. Ultimately, what ended up happening is I found myself looking past the gift and towards the Giver. ‘If this place is too much to fully take in and it is only God’s creation, how much more incomprehensible and captivating is He who made it?’ Joy and peace surrounded me as I sat there in contemplation.
I made it a point that week to really be present and experience this gift in the most fundamental ways; like when I was younger. I treasured using my senses to experience a primordial world. Feeling the sand on my skin, how fine and smooth it felt to the touch. The coolness of the turquoise waters; not too cool and not too warm, just perfection. So refreshing! Tasting the untampered and delicious fruits of the land, drinking nutrient rich juices, all free. Swimming far away from safety and security before eventually returning back to the boat felt so effortless. We were made for this, using our bodies, strengthening our muscles and interacting with nature.
My taste buds for beauty have been tingled during this trip and I’m seeing more and more the importance of seeking it regularly in the day to day. A breathtaking aesthetic environment is nice, but I want to apply the same lens through which I viewed undersea coral to the small details of my daily life. I want to see the ones I love through this lens and not take things for granted so easily. When it’s “that time” to get out of the rush of life, you just know it. Do yourself a favor and listen to that voice. GO! Rely on God, get out of your comfort zone, experience new cultures, recuperate, and see what marvels the Earth has to offer. You won’t regret it.
Pawel Machura is an adventurous seeker of beauty. He is a world traveler and music connoisseur who leads praise and worship, jams out as a blues guitarist, composes songs, and teaches. He spends most of his days as a Music Therapist specializing in Rehab, Surgical, Psychiatric, and AMPS interventions at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. One day Pawel will be an inhabitant of a tropical island…hopefully!
Eager for beauty in your own life? Check out some original Sacred Art works by Chester County Artist, Kate Capato, to meditate on and pray with!